Hey Reddit!

I'm a volunteer wildlife carer in Australia and run a licensed shelter that takes in all sorts of animals. I'm here with my son (pictured in proof photo), who said it would be a good idea for me to do this AMA, and that reddit would probably rather enjoy some of the quirky stories and interesting information we've both got.

As well as rehabilitating injured animals and raising orphaned ones we are also both wildlife rescuers and often get called out to relocate animals from populated areas back to the wild, or respond to animals that have been attacked by dogs, hit by cars, or found in a dire situation.

The shelter that I run is set up predominately to cater for orphaned and injured koalas and seabirds. For the koalas we have 4 outdoor enclosures with pseudo trees and fresh leaf. The babies start off being bottle fed special formula. They start off in the living room when tiny (what a lot of the pictures in the album show) in warm pouches, climbing small trees covered in sheep skin. They are then gradually taken outside and introduced to proper trees. Eventually they are left outside in the enclosure full time and gradually dehumanized. When they reach around 4.0kg's they are released at a suitable location.

Because we were getting a lot of sea birds, particularly penguins, we built a sea bird enclosure with a 6 meter pool. Foxes are a problem here so we had to go to extreme measures to keep them out.

Seabirds in care are generally fed pilchards (small fish that stink) - kilos of the stuff. Giant Petrels are the exception, they eat chickens (not live ones). When they are really hungry they eat two a day.

Proof: Imgur Imgur

This album contains a lot of images of the various animals over the years, sorry about the quality of some of them! And the date stamp is wrong on most. The images are also property of me, and if you want to use them please ask. They album doesn't show every animal that's come through, but gives you a good idea.


Okay guys! Start asking! We'll be around for about 2 hours, and then come back later and reply to any that we missed!

EDIT 1: It's 1am in Australia! So bed time for us! Keep the questions coming and we'll answer them in the morning! Thanks for the questions so far!

EDIT 2: Back again! Going to take us a while to get through these! But they're all good questions! Keep em coming! Mum just got called out to a Kangaroo that got hit by a car, I'll keep answering the ones I can, and leave the ones I can't for her when she get's back.

EDIT 3: Mum is going to release some Koalas and will be back later tonight to answer the rest of the questions! Sorry for coming and going so much!

EDIT 4: I am back. There are a lot of questions re becoming a shelter or volunteering at one. I thought i would explain a bit more here. A wildlife shelter is only legal in Victoria if it is registered with Dept of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP). Shelters have a Code of Practice which we must abide by ie minimum sized enclosures, animals that are unable to be 100% rehabilitated and released must be euthanised etc. Shelters can have up to three foster carers under their licence and these foster carers, after a minimum period of time and with the appropriate experience can apply for their own shelter permit. A lot of people want to become foster carers because they feel they will get to do a lot of 'warm and fuzzy' stuff ie feeding babies. Our whole purpose is to prepare these animals for the wild. This means minimal contact with people other than primary carer. Serious dehumanisation in preparation for release. A lot of people lose interest when they realise that most of the time is spent preparing feeds, washing bottles, pouches, towels, raking yards, driving hundreds of kilometers and here is the kicker - approximately 85% of wildlife we deal with has to be put down.

If you really want to do it you will need family/spousal support because it puts a huge drain on relationships for lots of reasons. You dont get public holidays or weekends. They are the really busy times because everyone else is on holiday. The animals routine comes first so if you have time constraints this may not be for you. You never know what the day holds so dont get stressed out if tea doesnt make it to the table until 10.30pm.

Small children and wildlife dont mix well. Kids get excited around them (understandable they are so cool) and dont understand quiet and dont touch. And when the kids are that small, they really deserve to come before the animals.

Money. It will cost you heaps. There is no government funding for running shelters. There have been a serious of small grants available through DELWP. There is no guarantee your application will be successful or if there will be anymore. We all do this because we are passionate and want to make a difference. Some spend a lot of time trying to fund raise. I personally dont have the time to do that.

The reason I started and more importantly still do it is because all my life I have received so much enjoyment from nature and the flora and fauna I encounter. This is my small way of saying thank you, it has been such a privilege.

If you still want to do it, find a shelter that will take you on and try it. I personally wont take anyone unless they have done rescue work for 12 months.

Hope that answers some questions.

Comments: 387 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

dirtymoney155 karma

do you wear ear-protectors when rehabbing dropbears?

AusWildlife36 karma

Our vet just related a story of a call that he got a while ago. The caller was walking through the local botanical gardens and a koala fell out of the pine tree (about 30 feet) onto the footpath in front of them. It was very old and thin, and had to be put down properly afterwards. If it had of dropped a couple of seconds later it probably would have killed the person.

TalkingRobot82 karma

Hi! Appreciate the good work you guys are doing.

1) How do you calm scared animals? I imagine most would be hostile to humans.

2) What is the silliest thing you have seem an animal do?

AusWildlife113 karma

1) It depends on the animal and what has happened to them. The normal procedure is (for most animals) to cut off visuals once you have them contained. For example, with koalas, once they are in a basket and the top has been put on we cover the basket with a blanket, making the inside dark to them. That normally works pretty well. Sometimes they're extremely stressed or in pain though, in that case it just takes time and a quiet area. In the case of macropods (Kangaroos and wallabies) they need to be sedated in order to calm down.

2) There's a whole lot of stupid things Koalas do. The next story is about a Goshawk, not a Koala, One story involved a Goshawk. We were called to retrieve it from someones backyard. Where it was harassing the birds inside their aviary, it got itself stuck between the aviary and the garden fence, and it couldn't get out. In order to get the bird out the palings of the fence had to be removed, at which point it hopped out, glared at me like I'd inconvenienced it, and then flew off. That's the only one I can think of at the moment. If I think of a better one I'll check back in.

Edit: To avoid confusion. And add this, we also had one of the koalas get stuck behind a book case. They're not very good at going backwards, and it must have thought that it could figure it's own way out. We had to pull the book case out to get him. Came out looking like a drop bear, all covered in cobwebs and frightened.

Reverent67 karma

The way that second story is worded, I had assumed a koala was stuck in the fence area. Imagine my surprise when a koala glared at you and then flew away.

AusWildlife7 karma

I'll edit it to avoid confusion!

littlehells70 karma

Hi there! Thanks for all your hard work. What have you found to be the most common injuries amongst native animals, or reasons that they end up in your care? Do you have any funny or interesting stories you could tell us about the animals you have cared for?

AusWildlife141 karma

Hey! Thanks!

The most common injuries we come across are traffic related injuries and dog attacks. Sadly a lot of these are fatal, particularly dog attacks. A lot of the time, orphans are found in the pouches of dead mothers that have been hit by cars.

One of the funniest stories could probably be the Rockhopper penguin, and the reason he got the name 'Wark'. Being a Rockhopper he was very adept at getting out of the enclosure we'd slapped together for him. I was out in the garden one day hanging washing on the line, when I hear a very loud and very close 'WAAAAARRRRRKK' behind me. After recovering from the shock I turn around and find the penguin standing right behind me with his head back, mouth open, expecting to be fed fish. There's a lot more stories, but that's probably the best one I can think of at the moment!

Edit: Just remembered another one, during summer we erect shade clothes over the Koalas enclosure. One day we were out feeding them their milk, and we couldn't find one, after looking around for a while we looked up and see a spot where the shade clothe was sagging down, and the silhouette of a koala was shining outlined. After that first one got up there the others wanted to have a crack too, and we'd often find them bouncing around on the shade clothe.

gooseberry_down43 karma

Please post a video of the adorable koalas bouncing around on the shade clothe! I NEED to see this

AusWildlife61 karma

I don't think we've got a video on hand. :(. But we'll make it a high priority to catch them in the act next time they're doing it!

gooseberry_down29 karma

Yes! Also, do you have an instagram twitter or facebook? It would be a great way to get your amazing work out to the masses (along with cute videos of koalas). It may even help with getting donations. Just a thought.

AusWildlife39 karma

Sadly no, we don't have a lot of spare time, but it could be a possibility in the future. Maybe a youtube channel! Thanks again for all the kind words!

Aidong59 karma


My mother does the same thing, we are based in far north Queensland. She mainly specialises in possums, she currently has thirteen possums, three sugar gliders and one squirrel glider.

You guys do hard work, and you're all absolute champions. Keep it up! :)

What release methods do you prefer? Hard, or soft release? Do you have trouble finding locations for soft release sites? And have you experimented with releasing around your place of residence? (Hint: don't. I get ambushed by possums racing my my leg when I walk across the two houses we have here.)

Also, what is your primary source of funding if you don't mind me asking?

AusWildlife16 karma

Thank your mother for us.

Soft release is really the only way to go in my opinion and from research done. Yes very, very hard to find soft release spots. Especially for possums. I can well imagine the possum ambush:).

Funding? I work part time to help support the costs.

glenglenglenglen39 karma

do you ever work with quokkas (however you spell it)?

AusWildlife57 karma

Sadly not, they're only found on some of the small Islands near Western Australia, we don't get them in Victoria! Sorry to disappoint.

Kongo20411 karma

How about Quolls?

I did a report on them in 7th grade and they've been my favorite animals ever since.

AusWildlife10 karma

Nah, never had a quoll in care, I'm not sure where they're local to in Australia, but I haven't heard of them in our area.

Kongo2045 karma

According to Wikipedia's distribution map they should be around. It looks like they're in most of East Australia. Also Tasmania and New Guinea, but that's less relevant.

AusWildlife10 karma

Mum: They're essentially extinct in our area of Australia, but apparently they are doing a captive breeding program in the Otways.

DeusExChimera34 karma

Awesome job. How does one get into that type of work? What's your favourite animal to work with?

AusWildlife73 karma

It depends on the country you live in, but for Australia you need to get another wildlife shelter to take you on as a foster carer, and then through them, gain experience. You also have to be prepared to do endless hours of volunteer work rescuing and caring for the animals. Once you have had your appropriate experience you can apply for a license to have your own shelter, this is done through the State Government. And they have a set of rules and regulations you are required to abide by.

I'm a big fan of Giant Petrels, mainly because we don't get many of them in, and they're such a big bird. Not to mention how interesting they are to feed, often consuming 1-2 whole chickens a day. They are very much the vultures of the sea. And they're not vicious to humans.

gooseberry_down29 karma

Lets pretend I came in tomorrow to volunteer (I live in Florida, USA). What would I be expected to do?

Growing up, I helped rescue sea birds from my local area. Usually they were tangled in fishing line. I have also rescued stray/feral cats, and once helped getting a cow out of the road and back into the fenced in field.

I think what you are doing is great! And if I ever do end up in Aussie Land, I am totally going to come volunteer!

AusWildlife52 karma

Hey gooseberry_down! Awesome that you've helped out in your area! Gutsy effort with the feral cat! We also get a lot of sea birds that get entangled and swallow fishing hooks!

So if you came in to volunteer: Depending on what animals we had in care. Some of the typical chores would be raking the yards of the koalas and seabirds (to pickup loose leaves, koala poop, and seabird poop). Collecting leaf, which involves going and cutting down small branches from appropriate trees in the area and switching out the old branches in the koala enclosure. Filling up the waters that keep the leaf fresh. Feeding the various animals (depending on how old the koalas are, this could be bottle feeding with milk). Washing towels and blankets that are used to protect the carpet in the living room. Maybe helping out in a rescue if there is one.

So, a bit of this and a bit of that!

Thanks for the question! And be sure to yell out if you ever are is Aussie land!

DoctorDetroit823 karma

Why are Common Wombats considered endangered, especially since they're referred to as 'common', and have a 'least concern' status on the conservation scale? And how come Wombats are so friendly to people in zoos, but make bad pets (or illegal to have as pets)?

AusWildlife44 karma


The 'Common' part of the name is just that, a name, and doesn't reflect their population numbers. From what I can understand, there are pockets of well populated areas, and other areas where they are essentially extinct. I'm not sure if that answers your question as well as you'd like, but that's all that I could think of that could contribute to such a contradiction.

As for them making bad pets, they are extremely destructive, they're rather headstrong, and instead of going around things, they have a tendency to go through them. You also need a special permit to keep any Australian Wildlife as pets. They also need secure enclosures, they'll dig out of anywhere they are put.

Hussard9 karma

There was a little wombat at the shelter I sometimes volunteer at. It was only very small but they are built like a rock!

The grossest job I've had at the shelter was cleaning out duck poop. Possum poop is easier by far!

AusWildlife8 karma

If you think duck poop is bad you havent cleaned up after a puggle (baby echidna). I thought penguin poop was bad until I smelt that!

hopstepjump_21 karma

What you're doing right now is so cool, and it has been my dream job for a long time. Alas, Singapore is too small for these things... I have two questions!

1) Do you sustain injuries inflicted by the animals often? What was your worst?

2) I read in your other reply that you started off by being a foster carer. Is this a full time thing?

AusWildlife27 karma

My sympathies for not having the opportunities! Keep in mind too, it's not really a job, more of a time consuming hobby. :).

1) Occasionally. Depends a lot on the animal and the situation, and if you're handling the animal correctly or not. My worst was the bite I sustained on my thumbnail when a koala decided it was going carnivorous.

Davids worst: I climbed up a tree to get a koala that had escaped from one of the enclosures down (a big female, probably 9-10kg). Normally you'd use a pole to get them to come down the tree, but I was in a rush, so I just pushed the top of it's head with my hand. She started coming down, but then I reached a fork in the tree and couldn't get out of the way, but the koala kept coming and went down my leg instead. Once it realized it wasn't on the tree anymore (it's butt was level with my knee) it started biting my hip, hard, very hard. I was only a meter and a half out of the tree so I just pushed off and hit the ground, mum got the koala and I ended up with some bruises. Nothing serious though.

2) Not really, keep in mind this is all volunteer and I work part time to help cover the costs of the shelter. It depends on how many animals you have in care, if you wanted to and could afford it, you could make it full time. But if not, you could take on one or two animals that don't require a lot of attention and be fine.

BrutallyHonestDude15 karma

What are you doing up at midnight?

AusWildlife35 karma

Just finished cleaning up the echidna shit in the living room (little dude got out of his basket again) and am watching a bit of Startrek!

BrutallyHonestDude9 karma

Long weekend or back at work tomorrow?

AusWildlife24 karma

Animals don't understand public holidays! Sadly. Also, public holidays tend to be pretty busy because of all the tourists! How about yourself? Back to work?

BrutallyHonestDude7 karma

Day off.

AusWildlife14 karma

Living the dream mate!

HillTopTerrace14 karma

Whoa... why can't seals be raised? Also, are Koalas smart? Do they have distinct personalities, or are they more like giant hamsters?

AusWildlife27 karma

There's a few reasons, normally we would try to reunite the cub with the mother. But where it was found (km's away from the main seal colony on Lady Julia Percy Island) made it impossible to find the mother. And if we had of put it back in the wrong area, the other seals or sharks would have killed it, or it would have starved to death.

The other way we could try and rehabilitate it would be to raise it ourselves, but once they've been raised like this there is no way to release them back into the wild. This is because they have not developed any hunting techniques and can't fend for themselves. So ultimately they'd starve after release.

TL;dr: couldn't find it's mother to be reunited, and can't raise them because they don't develop hunting skills in care.

EDIT: Sorry, missed the rest of the question. No, Koalas are dumb as dog shit. It's hilarious watching them sit in a tree three meters away from you and try and grab you with their hand. Or watch them coming down a tree, only to hit a branch with their bum and spend the next 5 minutes figuring out how to get around it. They do have pretty distinct personalities though, we've had ones that are broody, ones that love playing, ones that are clingy, ones that never quite stop being scared of people, ones that love cuddles, ones that hate them. It's a real mix.

HillTopTerrace4 karma

Hey! I thought I was too late to the IAMA to get a response. Thank you! The Koala bit made me chuckle. Makes sense for the seals, but still sad. Koalas do good with being released though? Is there any danger to them, being somewhat humanized? I mean, no one is going around targeting rehabilitated Koalas and Koalas aren't going around targeting humans?

AusWildlife6 karma

No worries! We've been on and off getting things done!

The first lot of Koalas we released were radio collared and tracked, to make sure they did well in the wild. I half expected them to stay together, but they split off pretty quickly and moved in their own direction. When we came back to check them they seemed to have forgotten who we were and it was a real fight to get them out of the tree to take the radio collars off. So yeah, they go pretty well in the wild after being released!

Hope that answers it for you!

rodent56712 karma

Hey, great work you're doing! Have you become attached to a certain animal in the shelter, like one who you can tell apart from the others, or have given it a name or something?

AusWildlife9 karma

Thanks man! David here, I'll answer and if mum has got more to contribute when she comes back I'll edit hers in.

The first animals we had I got kind of attached to, they were two brush tailed possums, called Milly and Columbus. They were awesome fun, and used to run up your leg, into your jacket and out the arm. A lot of the koalas have been fun too. But ultimately we're raising them to be released, not to be kept as pets. So it's often good to see them go off on their way!

As for being able to tell them apart and name them, we name all of them, normally based on their personality (ie, Myer was called Myer, because she had more front than Myer.) As they grow up it's pretty easy to tell them apart if you're around them alot. Be it from fluffier ears, a narrower face, a sassy attitude etc.

ivory810 karma

Hi, do the seabirds that come in ever have ticks on them? I'm a researcher and am interested in obtaining ticks from seabirds. Thank you for your hard work, I liase with a few carers and know how time consuming it becomes.

AusWildlife3 karma

I have had penguins with ticks before but its not common. The penguin was thin and was found in the dunes so clearly not particularly healthy. We get a lot of lice. Good luck with the research have you contacted Philip Island Nature Park?

TheBawlrus7 karma

Wombats? I love wombats. Do you have any stories about the majesticness of wombats?

AusWildlife33 karma

David here, we don't often get wombats around our area, but we've had one that came in a while ago.

It's name was Wanda, and it was a baby female wombat, probably just under 30cm from nose to arse. She was really cute, and it's kind of sad we don't have any photos of her. Anyway, she only stayed for 2 night before being taken to a different carer. But those two day, she slept in a basket on my bedroom floor. So I go to bed, thinking everything will be fine and she'll sleep brilliantly. I wake up at around 2 am to a banging on the door and think mum's trying to wake me up or something. After a while I roll out of bed and turn the light on. Here's this wombat trying to run through the door, like continually ramming it to get out. Anyway, I put her back in the basket and go back to sleep. Woken up again about 15 minutes later with Wanda doing the same thing. I think, 'Damn, what am I going to do?' I ended up having to pull the mattress onto the floor and sleep on the floor with this wombat nuzzled into my armpit. She didn't move a muscle after that. It was a sad day when she left.

TL;Dr Slept with a wombat.

Comrade_Snarky86 karma

This is adorable. Do you plan on taking this over from your parents?

AusWildlife11 karma

She was cute! I'm halfway through a Chemical Engineering degree, and want to travel after that, so I'm not really looking at doing it for a long time. Maybe when I retire and have nothing else to do! All the skills would be there.

carl2k16 karma

Do you get venomous snakes and other creepy crawlies in oz?

AusWildlife6 karma

Yes, we lost 3 carers last week on their back porches. They didn't stand a chance.

carl2k12 karma

What exactly happened?

AusWildlife5 karma

It was a joke. But there are quite a few dangerous snakes around in summer. You just have to be careful when walking through long grass and make sure you make a lot of noise so they're not surprised when you appear.

DPSOnly5 karma

You said you rehabilitated possums. Are they nice animals to take care off, or little devils?

AusWildlife4 karma

Indeed we have! We don't do it much anymore (other carers are more geared towards possums) but we've had a fair few over the years.

I think it depends entirely on what age the come in at. If it's and orphan and you raise it from a baby they're normally very cool animals that love playing around and running around the curtains. They'll hang off your fingers and arms with their tails as well. But if they come in as adolescents, or have been injured and come in as adults they hiss and bite and scratch.

Tl;dr Depends a lot on age more than anything I think.

flashgordon72355 karma

My friend had a couple sugar gliders and said they are super mean and growl at you all the time. Is this a fact or just a couple of bad natured sugar gliders? Or perhaps how he interacted with them??

AusWildlife6 karma

Dave replying again, mum still isn't back.

We had one come into care that was absolutely brilliant, ate it's food, didn't his or scratch, made a good recovery and was released. It came in extremely young, like, it's eyes weren't even open when it first arrived. I think this made a big difference in how it interacted with us.

The other one that came into care was the opposite, and I'm almost certain was possessed by satan. It hissed, scratched, bit, has to be force fed. It came in as an adolescent, with wide eyes and knew what was up. We eventually put it in our outdoor possum enclosure and soft released it on the property. It's probably still around somewhere.

So I guess it's a bit of hit and miss, but if they've had time to be wild, then bringing them into a house is probably a terrible idea for everyone involved.

mrfluffybunny5 karma

I've just had a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo sitting on the ground out the front of my house. There are a few stray cats in the area and the cockatoo seems incapable of anything other than a waddle. What should I do?

AusWildlife4 karma

Sorry for horribly late reply we have been flat out; kangaroo with two broken legs, wallaby with a broken leg and koala with suspected kidney failure. All gone to god. If you havent already done so, catch the bird with a towel and take to a vet. If it cant fly there are numerous things that could be wrong.

obsessedwithpenguins4 karma

Reading your AMA and looking at your album has been inspiring! I have been a life long admirer of penguins (and birds/animals in general) and have always dreamt of seeing them in the wild. I had also dreamed of working with them, but that dream has now been shattered by forces out of my control. I have volunteered at my local Audubon Society's Wildlife Care Center, so I've at least been able to help with the rehabilitation of birds/bunnies/skunks. But penguins aren't in the US, and it's not the same seeing or working with them in an aquarium/zoo.

So now, my fiancé and I are planning a honeymoon for me to finally make this dream come true (November through April are the best times to see penguins on shore because of they're breeding, so this is what we're shooting for). I've narrowed down to Santiago, Chile mainly because of all the opportunities to see Rockhopper, Macaroni, Magellanic and Humboldt penguins there, because of how much cheaper it is to get there from the Pacific NW in the US, and of course because it's much cheaper all around - more bang for our buck! But now an idea has popped into my noggin'...

Could I work for you? I'd love to talk to you about, perhaps, helping you out in some capacity during my honeymoon, if we were to choose Victoria, Australia instead. I have been giving thought to it anyway since I've heard wonderful things about Phillip Island Nature Park and their Penguin Parade. I do realize the chance of penguins being in your care at the time of my trip, regardless of when, is small, but to help a "mom and pop" set-up would be more appealing to me anyway.

I've sent you a PM with this as well, but I thought I'd put out a comment in the off chance you see this first.

AusWildlife5 karma

Just saw the PM before! Will message you back with an in depth answer soon! Sorry about the wait!

biggguy4 karma

Great photos, thanks for all your work with these amazing animals.

Just wondering - what is the problem with seals that they can't be raised?

AusWildlife4 karma

Hey! Thanks a tonne for the kind words! I replied elsewhere in regards to the Seal, I'll just ctrl V it for you!

'There's a few reasons, normally we would try to reunite the cub with the mother. But where it was found (km's away from the main seal colony on Lady Julia Percy Island) made it impossible to find the mother. And if we had of put it back in the wrong area, the other seals or sharks would have killed it, or it would have starved to death.

The other way we could try and rehabilitate it would be to raise it ourselves, but once they've been raised like this there is no way to release them back into the wild. This is because they have not developed any hunting techniques and can't fend for themselves. So ultimately they'd starve after release.

TL;dr: couldn't find it's mother to be reunited, and can't raise them because they don't develop hunting skills in care.'

EDIT: Tracey here in addition to above - Phillip Island I believe tried raising seal pups and they did not learn to hunt themselves and unfortunately had to be euthanised. All sea mammals also fall into a slightly different category in Victoria and the Dept has total control over their outcome. Seal pups are total heart breakers:(

Missunify4 karma

I read this as "Australian Wife Shelter". Did a double take when you started talking about rehabilitating animals!

Anyway, what was the best experience you have had with one single animal, or the biggest recovery you've seen?

AusWildlife5 karma

Thats hilarious, dont think I could cope with a wife shelter.

Wark the Northern Rock Hopper penguin. He was a very interesting bird. He was young and bonded to me. According to the blood tests he had pancreatitis so he had a problem keeping fish down. Long story short, he finally came good and put on all his weight. |Then he kept eating and was always hungry. He was preparing to molt. This meant he had to stay until he had finished molting and was waterproof again. In order to molt penguins need to get very fat as they have to stay on land as they are not waterproof. Unlike other birds that molt a few feathers at a time and replace continually, penguins molt them all in one go every year. I was asked to write an article on Wark that was published in the first publication of Australian Wildlife Secrets. Some cool photos of him in it.

Encyphus4 karma

Hey guys, thanks for doing such an awesome job at pretty much everything!

What are the laws in Australia regarding the ownership of wild animals?

I am asking this because I would love to own a penguin, much like in the film, Mr. Popper's Penguins, but in America such a thing is frowned upon by society. I would love to get up in the morning, walk into my front room, and slide down a frozen slide on my belly with my penguin brethren, but alas my dream is far from reality as long as I am living here.

AusWildlife5 karma

My recommendation would be to travel to the Antarctic and integrate yourself into their society, I'm sure you would be hailed as the penguin king in no time!

On a serious note: It would be very much frowned upon here as well, special licensing is required for wild animals, and I think keeping penguins as pets is very illegal in Australia.

paindoc3 karma

Do you ever take in any orphaned fox kits and raise them? If so, how do they behave? Do they like humans or are they very skittish and distant?

AusWildlife6 karma

Fox's are pest's in Australia, and aren't classified as wildlife. They're often responsible for killing small wildlife, native birds and baby wildlife that wander too far from their parents. So people around here shoot them rather than caring for them.

tokodan3 karma

Hi. This will probably get lost in the comments, but could I volunteer at your shelter? I am not from Australia, but if I could find a way there I would love to work for you in exchange for shelter (I could live with the animals, I'm ok with that.

AusWildlife2 karma

Thats very kind of you but i dont think the animals would be ok with that. If you are that keen on helping at this shelter I am sure there would be shelters where you are that would love some assistance.

sewsnap3 karma

What would you like to say to the people who sell Sugar Gliders as pets? I'm sure you occasionally have to take in ones who were purchased not knowing enough about them.

AusWildlife5 karma

I dont like any wildlife species being used as pets. When you get to see animals in their natural environment doing what they are designed to, i find depressing seeing them reduced to a pet for humans enjoyment. Even if they are loved and cherished.

QuelqueChoseRose3 karma

Have you gotten to work with wombats? What are they like? I've always wanted to meet a wombat.

AusWildlife3 karma

We've had one in care for a two days. But we don't really have them in our area. The story about the wombat is up in the other comments somewhere. But I can relate from what we've heard from people that care about them.

Apparently they are hard to contain, and often the enclosures need to have wire mesh dug into the ground in order to stop the wombats from burrowing out. I've also heard that they'll continually run into something (sapling trees, doors, rocks?) until that something breaks. Interesting creatures, and I kind of wish we had more in more often.

Fuck_it_2 karma

Can you post an x-ray of your heart? It must absolutely enormous.

But actual question time. I was in Australia when I was in second grade and remember being told that when kangaroo parents are hit by a car, the joeys tend to be fine, but extremely young. Have any of the joeys ever been so young they thought you/your coworkers were its mother/father? It made me sad when I heard that happens, but then again, moose and deer get hit all the time and no one bats an eye.

AusWildlife2 karma

Thanks for the heart comment. Sometimes the joeys are ok, well other than terrified, grief stricken and often cold and hungry. Yes they do look to the person raising them as the substitute mum. This is a normal reaction, you are providing food, shelter, warmth. We always raise kangaroos (well everything if possible) with buddies of the same species. When they are released, they are already in a small mob so their chances of survival are much greater. We only ever soft release roos (again everything where possible). And yeah over here people are pretty unfazed by roo road kill.

sweetb622 karma

Awesome photos! Why cant baby seals be rehabilitated?

AusWildlife6 karma

Replied elsewhere, but I'll copy it because I'm a good bloke.

'There's a few reasons, normally we would try to reunite the cub with the mother. But where it was found (km's away from the main seal colony on Lady Julia Percy Island) made it impossible to find the mother. And if we had of put it back in the wrong area, the other seals or sharks would have killed it, or it would have starved to death.

The other way we could try and rehabilitate it would be to raise it ourselves, but once they've been raised like this there is no way to release them back into the wild. This is because they have not developed any hunting techniques and can't fend for themselves. So ultimately they'd starve after release.

TL;dr: couldn't find it's mother to be reunited, and can't raise them because they don't develop hunting skills in care.'

youseeitp2 karma

Do wambats really poop cubes?

AusWildlife6 karma

Yep, with rounded off edges, but they look very similar to cubes.

AusWildlife2 karma


kidgeoff5042 karma

Thanks for your kind work.

Are you a better call saul fan?

AusWildlife2 karma

Dave again, I loved 'Breaking Bad'! But haven't had a chance to watch 'Better call Saul' yet. I've heard good things though!

_ohhello2 karma

What are your best koala stories? Koalas are my favorite animals! I'm jealous you get to love them everyday!

AusWildlife7 karma

There's quite a few stories! (Mum's still out, I'll relate a few of my experiences with them.)

Because they live in the living room when they're younger, they tend to cut the house in half, so in order to get through you need to run the gauntlet of koalas. One time we had five inside and I was in a rush for school, clothes were in a clothes basket in the living room and I'd just gotten out of the shower. What happens next is a wild dance to try and avoid the 5 koalas running around the floor (looking for milk) and keep my legs in one piece. That would have been a funny site.

They're pretty playful when they're young too, you'd often walk past the living room and see 3 or 4 of them rolling around on the floor wrestling, or one spear tackling another from the top of the couch. They're rather entertaining.

Hope that answered a few!

got_lost_again1 karma

Do you ever care for budgies? Or are they too far out of the way?

AusWildlife2 karma

Only budgies down here are domestic ones.

Blackcassowary1 karma

Do you guys ever get dingoes? And what is your stance on their status as a part of Australian wildlife?

AusWildlife2 karma

No dingoes down in our area. Not sure that I am qualified to have an opinion other than they were here before us.

9999monkeys1 karma

How do you find the specialized veterinary care you need, and do you have to pay for it?

AusWildlife2 karma

We are very, very lucky we have a friend who is our vet and is interested in wildlife. We pay for drugs and extra procedures but we get his time for free and this four day public holiday I have used and abused it. It is also hard in big vet clinics that have a lot of rotating vets so you dont get the same one. Also a lot of vets really just do domestics.

this-is_bullshit1 karma

Hey thanks for doin the AMA. I was just wondering how you survive if you are just a volunteer? Is there any income?

AusWildlife2 karma

My husband works full time and I work part time. No income from the shelter. I guess our priorities are a lot different to a lot of people. Not interested in upgrading the car or having a theatre room etc.

manaNinja1 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA! What motivated you (and your family) to become volunteer wildlife carers?

AusWildlife2 karma

I think I mentioned that earlier. A bushfire in a very high koala populated area started me with hands on stuff but I have always had an appreciation and love for nature.

Boonaki1 karma

What animal was the biggest asshole?

AusWildlife2 karma

Hmm not sure that asshole is fair but I had a very difficult Fiordland penguin once. We called him Django. If you have seen the movie it will explain all. Moments of total calm and 'unchained' moments of violence directed at the back of my knees.

burstabcess1 karma

Hey, love your work. I have a good friend who does similar work. My question is how difficult is it to get licenses to do what you do? Are you affiliated with wires or independent?
Are you registered as a charity? Is that difficult to obtain? My friend is entirely self funded, it is expensive. I have heard my friend struggle with a lot of beauracracy over the years, so she has to keep whst she does pretty quiet.
The sad thing is if all the carers had an open network they could teach each other so much. Thanks for doing what you do.

AusWildlife2 karma

Hi Wires is NSW. I am in Victoria and the licensing is done via state government. See edit 4 in intro.

Not registered as a charity as yes it is difficult and time consuming and costly. We are also self funded and it is expensive.

Yep bureaucracy is a pain. Open networking does happen in some areas. Unfortunately ego often steps in and makes things unpleasant. Everyone has their own way of doing things. The proof is in the results as to how well it all works. I wish her luck with it all.

9999monkeys1 karma

What's your biggest headache?

AusWildlife4 karma

Members of the public. In a variety of ways; lack of consideration eg slowing down in areas that have wildlife, not calling someone when they have hit and injured an animal. The kangaroo we had to euthanise this morning had two completely severed back legs and was still alive. It was obvious by the dried blood that the injuries happened last night. Cutting down trees during spring when birds and possums are nesting in them. Trees that have been food sources to koalas for years and also escape routes from dogs removed because they block the view. Fish hooks and fishing line discarded cause endless problems too. I could go on and on....

AusWildlife2 karma

Members of the public today was a perfect example:- large male eastern grey two totally severed legs from car or truck collision left alive on the side of the road. Called in this morning by a passing resident. It obviously happened last night due to the dried blood on the bone. Slowing down makes a big difference to the amount of call outs we get. Cutting down trees in spring while they are being used for nesting sites for birds and possums. Discarding fishing line and hooks. Cutting down long time food trees for koalas because they interfere with the view. But that all really gets covered by development and reducing habitat.

9999monkeys0 karma

How do you feel about the koala cull?

AusWildlife3 karma

Thats a biggie and political and this is how I see it. The problem at Cape Otway could not have been solved any other way at the time. It was not a secret and the locals had been yelling the problem for a long time. However, the problem was caused in the first place by the mismanaged translocation program run over many, many years. We are going to have the same problem happening in South West Victoria but as the result of the blue gum plantations being harvested. The animals affected there will be in far greater numbers. Another very big hot topic.